I’m famous for cooking with pumpkin, and I use it all year, not just during the holidays. This is a recipe that always brings them running. The sweet spiciness of the pumpkin bread is countered by the tartness of the cranberries.
While canned pumpkin is available year-round, fresh cranberries are not. So I buy about 15 bags when they go on sale after Thanksgiving and keep them in my freezer for use throughout the year. While you can use dried cranberries in this recipe, fresh ones give it a really amazing texture, and they’re much tarter, which contrasts nicely with the sweet bread.
Preheat oven to 400F.
3 1/3 cups unbleached flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom
Mix these together with your fingers in a large bowl until they are totally combined. In a smaller bowl, mix:
1 1/4 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
1 can pumpkin (I make my pumpkin puree from scratch, in which case, use 2 cups)
1/4 cup melted butter (half a stick)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
Whisk these together until they are smooth. Then add to the dry ingredients and stir gently only until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Then gently fold in:
1-2 cups fresh cranberries (If you use dried, soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and roll between paper towels before adding to the batter.)
Then spoon into a muffin pan sprayed lightly with canola oil and dusted with flour. Or, for a much easier life, use cupcake liners. Fill each cup about 3/4″ full. Then bake in a preheated 400F oven for 15 minutes. They will darken considerably. After 15 minutes, gently poke a toothpick or knife into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, the muffins are done. If it comes out sticky, they need another 5-10 minutes.